News Release

Tonga Now
Government of Tonga
Nukualofa, Tonga
May 16

His Majesty, King Siaosi Tupou V left the Kingdom this morning to attend the State Funeral of Samoa’s Head of State His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II. He is accompanied by the Governor of Ha’apai Lord Malupō, Tonga Government’s representative.

Also attending the funeral from Tonga’s Royal House are the Queen Mother, Queen Halaevalu Mata’aho and HRH Princess Pilolevu Tuita, and the Royal grandchildren Hon. Sitiveni Polu Le’uligana, Hon. Salote Maumautaimi, Hon Sione Ikamafana and Hon. ‘Etani Tuku’aho. The Malietoa Family has always had close ties with Tonga’s Royal House, ties which were enhanced by the marriage of HH Malietoa’s granddaughter, Hon. Alaileula to the Late Lord Ma’atu, second son of the Late King and Queen Halaevalu Mata’aho.

Samoa's Head of State, HH Malietoa Tanumafili II – born January 4 1912, is the third longest reigning monarch but oldest Head of State. He died peacefully at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital on Friday May 11, 2007. Sources in Apia said HH Malietoa visited the hospital several times and had died from "chest complications".

HH Malietoa celebrated his 95th birthday earlier this year. During a luncheon hosted by the Government, HH Malietoa was declared the oldest surviving Head of State in the world. At the time, Prime Minister Tuilaepa acknowledged Malietoa’s huge contribution to Samoa’s march for independence and said that the Head of State is an excellent role model and an outstanding leader for his people.

HH Malietoa had been king of Samoa since the nation of about 180,000 people gained independence from New Zealand in January 1962. His Highness was made joint Head of State for life with the Late HH Tupua Tamasese Meaole when his country gained independence 45 years ago in 1962. Upon HH Tupua Tamasese Meaole’s death, HH Malietoa became the sole Head of State. Under Samoa's Constitution, his successor will be appointed for five-year terms and will be decided by a vote of the country's elected Legislative Assembly.

His Highness inherited the Malietoa title in 1939, after the death of his father Malietoa Tanumafili I. In 1940, he was appointed by the New Zealand Government as Advisor on Samoan matters and in 1949 he was elected Committee Chairman for the preparation of Samoa’s Independence.

Malietoa’s body will lay in state inside Parliament Building for 24 hours starting Thursday at 8am, said the public notice.

A state funeral is scheduled for Friday 18 May at Parliament grounds with the service to be led by the National Council of Churches at 10am.

Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s CEO, Auseugaefa Va’asatia Poloma Komiti, made the official announcement of HH Malietoa’s passing to the country. He also announced Cabinet’s approval of Thursday and Friday this week as public holidays and that all flags are to be flown at half mast.

Only two eulogies would be given, one by Government, the other by a member of Malietoa’s family. The announcement also said a 22 cannon salute will honour HH Malietoa and his 67 years of serving the nation with dedication and distinction.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the grieving family and the country.By virtue of his length of service as Head of State, he was ranked third in the world behind the King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. But the King of Thailand and Queen Elizabeth inherited their titles and did so at a young age. Because of that we’re anticipating a lot of people from overseas," Auseugaefa said after delivering Cabinet’s announcement

The state funeral will be held on part of the Parliament grounds and HH Malietoa Tanumafili II wil be laid to rest at Mulinu’u where his Malietoa Tanumafili I buried.

HH Malietoa Tanumafili II is the last of three renowned leaders of the Pacific who had served and influenced development in their own nation. The three were all related: Samoa's HH Malietoa Tanumafili II, His Late Majesty, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga and Fiji's Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara."

The three leaders were heads of state at times of independence and all held powerful chiefly titles recognised as royal across the Pacific. Ratu Mara who died in 2004, aged 84 was a paramount chief of the Lau Islands who had taken Fiji to independence in 1970 and also served as president. His late Majesty, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV ruled Tonga for 41 years until his passing in 2006 aged 88.

Tonga Now, formerly operated by the Government of Tonga’s Reform Information Office, is currently operated by Kalia Media Serivces, which provides media responses and information about Tonga from the Government.

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